Funny how life’s twists, turns shape attitudes, goals

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Most of us are or have been dreamers. As youngsters, we see or read about successful, well-known people. Everyone says wonderful things about them, so we start developing our ideas about life’s journey based on those attitudes.

Many youngsters want to be like one or both parents. I knew my mother was a rock solid, honest and true to her faith, so I wanted to have those qualities. Dad was a rancher who had a formal education of 7th or 8th grade; it was never quite clear to me which.

What was abundantly clear was that, from a math standpoint, he had a PhD mind. I was blessed enough to inherit some of that math ability but no desire to be a rancher or a mathematician.

My high school buddies all took a lot of math courses, especially my best pal, Douglas Aycock. We didn’t do IQ tests in those days, but I believe Doug would’ve been off the charts. He became a doctor specializing in psychiatry.

I followed Doug and a couple of other friends and took five math courses in high school: Algebra I, Algebra II, Plane Geometry, Solid Geometry and Trigonometry. I didn’t take a solitary math course in college in attaining a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.

At age 14, the writing bug bit me. I wanted to be the world’s greatest sportswriter and wrest the crown from Grantland Rice, acknowledged as America’s best in the first half of the 20th Century.

Journalism-English teacher and school newspaper sponsor Louise Forke began to nudge me toward the writing field in junior high and, of course, I joined the paper staff in my freshman year and remained through high school.

As a senior, I received a one-year scholarship of tuition, books and fees from Dr. Ferol Robinson, head of the journalism department at then-Sam Houston State Teachers College. That and a job as an evening short order cook in the Club Café across the street from the campus paid for the first semester.

While the scholarship continued for the second term, I moved out of the kitchen and into the job of sports publicity director for SHSTC for a whopping $45 a month and got to travel with the Bearkat football team and some with the basketball team. I was told the job was part time and I was still carrying a full course load. I was also required to run the public address system at home basketball and baseball games.

Things cruised along busily through the rest of that freshman year and well into my sophomore year before it became painfully apparent that I was running out of money. Forty-five dollars a month and no scholarship didn’t enable me to pass Go.

So, Grantland Rice was in no immediate danger, and I sought full time employment in order to replenish the college fund.

My hometown newspaper, The Teague Chronicle, was in an ownership transition and needed a newsman to handle all general news except “society,” which the bookkeeper-receptionist would handle. And, shucks, they were going to quadruple my monthly salary as SHSTC’s sports publicity director. Plus I could live at home with no room and board bill.

After a year in Teague, I decided I needed to go to school where there were more job opportunities than Huntsville offered and off I went to the University of Houston, where I could get cheap room and board with an aunt and uncle and attend a BIG school.

With the help of Huntsville Item editor Don Reid Jr., I garnered a $1,000 scholarship ($500 each semester) to private school U. of H.



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